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Intro to Ayurveda & the Elements

April 18, 2019 7 min read

Ayurveda is the ancient “Knowledge” of “Life”

Ayurveda reflects the inner-working relationship of harmony in life- all aspects of life. Ayurveda is simplistic & logical, yet has endless layers. It is the wisdom from ancient India that ties together all of the Elements & expresses how they work, based on the laws of nature.

The Elements are the basic building blocks of life. They form this reality & are Earth, Water, Fire, Air & Ether.When elements combine, our world expands to include physical objects, human bodies, mountains & bodies of water, food, & tangible objects as well as ideas. Ayurveda creates balance through all 5 of our senses, covering every aspect of life through the mind, body therapies, aroma therapy, color therapy, herbal medicine, food, vibrations, reflection, intentions, movement, reflection, stillness & experience. 

Ayurveda is practical as well as spiritual (and that’s why we fell in love with it!) While many think that Ayurveda is mostly about food & eating guidelines, it’s actually about learning the ways in which life works & how we individually & as a whole can best thrive.  Ayurveda is the science of the individual as well as the collective, applying to the micro & macrocosm. The ancient Rishi’s of India (sages/gurus), were the ones who composed Vedic literature of the eternal truths. These sages translated the channeled wisdom of the Universe into comprehensible knowledge people used for health & vitality. Sounds pretty esoteric, yet time after time when the fundamentals of Ayurveda are applied, the ideals can be broken down into very logical explanations. I also fell in love with Ayurveda because it made sense to my mind.

For something to be “Ayurvedic” 3 things must be known:

The nature of the patient

The nature of the dis-ease

The nature of the medicine  

This emphasizes knowing a person’s whole story before making symptom based recommendations. In my own journey, this made the biggest difference in healing my digestive disturbances. I was crippled with digestive pain every time I ate & I didn’t know why (neither did Western doctors). Then an acupuncturist started to ask me about what I ate, when, how I felt before & after, etc. & she started to piece together my digestive story. I started to learn about cause & effect relating to health & gained clarity on what I could do to begin healing my gut.

The Elements guide the functions of life. When combined, they create our internal & physical reality. They either cause balance or imbalance - they may heal or harm. The Elements form any & everything we see. Ayurveda honors these Elements & we thrive by honoring these components of life. An Ayurvedic inner-standing of life provides a roadmap, blueprint or even an intuitive guide to more harmonious living. When we create more harmony in our lives, the uncontrollable outside forces have less of a harmful effect on us. We are stable in our foundation of who we really are & wish to embody. 

The Elements at play reflect every aspect of our lives. They have an influence on our sleep, digestion, mental state, mood, motivation, work habits, speech, focus, energy & anything else you can imagine.  

Earth is the most grounded of Elements.

Earth is our home & provides all of our basic needs. Without Earth, everything would be floating & no roots would grow. What comes to mind when you think of Earth & try to recall its qualities? Most of us are reminded of nature & what we appreciate about it. 

To get you more familiar with Earth in daily life, the qualities are: stable, heavy, dense, dry, cold, rough, hard, gross, static, dull, cloudy… Anything that identifies with these qualities, has an elemental component of Earth. The Earth element is obviously present in a tree, mushroom & soil. Yet, it is also present in a table, book & sweet potato. In our physical form, Earth is in our bones, teeth & hair. Mentally, Earth is in the grounding structure of our thoughts as well as a sense of security & stability. 

Sometimes when we think of Earth & nature qualities, we instantly think of Earth + another element. For instance, when we imagine the moist soil from recent rains in our hands, we are feeling the Water element in the Earth.

We can tap into Earth’s stability by creating consistency in our lives. practicing healthy routines is an important aspect of Ayurveda - this is known as dinacharya. When we have consistent practices, we are less frazzled by the chaos that can occur. This results in a better ability to stay grounded in the face of stress, discomfort & the unknown. 

To reconnect with the Earth Element, we encourage you to bring more awareness (& enjoyment!) into your day-to-day activities with an emphasis on steady routines & self-love.  

Water is the Element that represents nourishment, fluidity & our emotions. 

Water has many states of being, reflecting its fluidity. Water is cold, moist, heavy, gross, static, dull, soft, smooth, cloudy & flowing. 

When we think of water in relation to ourselves, we think of the waters within & thus the waters of emotions we feel. As we embrace our inner waters, we too gain the powers of emotional fluidity & adaptation. Our emotions & our inner world contain the depths of an ocean. By reflecting & getting in touch with our emotions, we learn how to navigate our inner terrain. When we identify too much with our thoughts & emotions, attachment forms & creates stagnancy.

Self-inquiry is a very important part of Ayurveda & Yoga – it is an influential aspect of personal transformation. Both Yoga & Ayurveda bridge together the magic of our experiences with our actual physical bodies. Being in touch with our bodies helps us be at our prime & best navigate the human experience. Moving forward begins with first acknowledging where you currently are. 

The Fire Element represents transformation & the motivation to do so.

Fire grants us focus, determination, the will to transition & the energy to accomplish our goals. Fire is hot, light, dry, flowing, sharp, hard, rough, clear & mobile. Fire transforms wood to ash, water to vapor & your food into fuel. When presence is practiced in the art of consumption, we thrive.

Giving ourselves the proper presence & focus of energy to transform leads to successful transition. The Fire element is all around us as it provides us warmth & light in daily living. Anything that we digest through eating, sight or sound is also absorbed through our internal fires. 

Begin to notice Fire’s influence on you. Do you heat up easily ? Do you enjoy spicy foods ? Is your temper less manageable than you’d like ? A lack of Fire energy may resemble embers wishing to spark. This may appear as having burning desires, yet no energy to fulfill them. We also need sufficient fire within in order to digest our food. Begin gazing at candle flames or enjoying lemon water to spark your flames.  

The Air Element governs all movement. 

Air guides the movement of all our bodily functions & limbs as well as the speed of our thoughts.Creativity is inspired from Air. Air being light, mobile & an influential force, allows us to guide our intentions through action & movement. Air acts as an inspiration & encourages us to not only dream up our whimsical fantasies – but to go out & create them!

Air’s qualities are cold, dry, light, subtle, flowing, sharp, hard, rough & clear. Air encourages us to reassess our rigid boundaries that we’ve established over time. Air invites us to get in touch with our inner child & create from that inspiration. Air lightens our load while showing us how to go with the flow. Air seems light but may also be harsh as wind. This expression of Air causes dryness, irritability, anxiety or instability. Earth balances an excess of Air & Air balances an excess of Earth.

Play around with your expression of creativity in daily life. Creativity may be expressed through aspects other than crafts or art. We create when we cook, write, choose our words, choose our outfits, design our home aesthetics, plant in a garden - the possibilities are endless.  

The Ether is where all creation begins.

All ideas that spring from inspiration land in the Ether & await their physical birth into our reality. The idea of Ether & Ether itself are very expansive. Think of Ether as the Universe. 

The Ether Element (also known as space) represents infinite possibilities & the energetic/spiritual realm. Ether is light, cold, dry, subtle, flowing, sharp, clear, infinite & mobile. It is the space which holds every physical object.

Ether is vast & liberating, giving us the space we need to grow & blossom. When we fill our etheric space with harmonious experiences, we thrive & better nurture our best Selves.

Everything we see & touch in the physical is a result of potential energies becoming manifest. We are deeply influenced by things we cannot see or feel – like sounds & scents. Our senses (smell, taste, sight, touch, & sound) are what carry energy from the outside world into our bodies, minds & spirits.

⠀Mindful ingestion through all senses is key to holistic health. By becoming aware of what we intake through our senses, we are better able to filter our experiences towards harmony.

How often do you pay attention to what you intake through your senses? Whether it’s through what you watch or what you listen to, you are allowing that energetic imprint to enter your field. By practicing harmonious sensory experiences, you bring balance & wellness into your life. Personal responsibility brings upon the freedom of living. Embrace these choices with awareness & pleasure! Get in touch with your inherent etheric qualities & subtle realm. 

Erica Beaty
Erica Beaty

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